Art Of Nature

“Numbskull” Cyanotype and Van Dyke prints by Matt Shapoff

Our home is a museum of not necessarily rare and precious objects. Just stuff we’ve stumbled upon and really liked for one reason or another. We’re not talking exotic wood carvings or colorful woven baskets from far away places, although I once dragged home from Stockholm a suitcase full of mid century modern Swedish ceramics and glassware. We collect things: a pair of vintage Boy Scout bookends, an incomplete set of worn wood type, a polychrome bird’s nest made of tangled sewing thread, a vintage microphone and whatnot.

Cyanotype fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Natural wonders play an important role in our curatorial efforts and in Matt’s art. Each oddly shaped piece of driftwood, slice of agate or spiral seashell is examined for it’s unique potential to join our little cabinet of curiosities or perhaps become the subject of a new Handmade On Peconic Bay print series. Found feathers are of particular interest, as are dead bumblebees, lovely banded snail shells and tiny intact crabs in a ready stance, frozen in time on our shelf.

Van Dyke Brown fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Call us new antiquarians living in a sepia toned world. We are modern collectors with Renaissance style. The 16th century Wunderkammer movement, defined as an explosion of interest in snapping up natural curiosities throughout Europe and Asia, then hoarding them in dedicated rooms and obsessively recording them in lavish botanical encyclopedias, was the original cult of collecting. Back then it was strictly wealthy patrons who traveled far and wide in search of animal and mineral specimens for their extensive curio cabinets. But the specimens were also of great interest to Northern European artists who started the trend for realistic still life paintings of newly discovered insects, vegetables and flowers. It’s an entirely human fascination with the art of nature that has not diminished in the last 500 years.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Wunderkammer collection of modern vintage Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown prints by Matt Shapoff, $12.50 to $48.00 on Supermarket and Etsy.

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